Tuesday, May 08, 2007

2007 Wrap, Part 1 - WHL East

Since I've neglected this space for such a long time, I'll make up for it by posting a big end of the season run down on all the prospects from my region (WHL and BCHL).

Brandon Wheat Kings

Andrew Clark - Is he one of those "good junior players" or is he a real prospect? Some scouts think very highly of him, others not so. Since he competes hard and has some pretty good skill, he seems like a probable mid-round pick.

Keith Aulie - I see big problems with his skating stride. Some teams don't care. Five years ago, he could have been as high as a 3rd round pick. But the game has changed, and so has the draft. I'd be surprised if he goes before the last couple of rounds.

Others: Daniel Bartek should have scored more than he did, given his talent. I wouldn't be too surprised to see Jay Fehr go, but he's missing more than just his brother's size (his hands, for one). Joe Caliguri was hard to see this season, and being 5-9 is still a big negative for goaltenders. And wasn't Matt Hallick a big scorer in Bantam?

Moose Jaw Warriors

Jordan Knackstedt - Looked like a really good 2nd round pick about a year ago this time. Now he looks like a so-so 5th round pick. Looks like his skating got a lot worse over the last summer. Did he bulk up too much? Went from being a guy I was pretty excited about last season to a don't-care player this season.

Travis Ehrhardt - I know he'll go somewhere, but I just didn't care much for this one. Probably a middle round guy.

Prince Albert Raiders

Ryan DePape - Well, if you're going to have a crappy draft year, then it helps if have a huge one the next season. Could go surprisingly early, but I think he's in the middle or late rounds.

Matt Robertson - Hey, sometimes big numbers in Midget does translate to success in major junior. Doesn't have much size, but I figure he's got go in the second half of the draft.

Others: Toughness is always hard to find in the draft, so that makes Cody Vann a possible late pick. Andy Smith is smallish, but there's an outside chance he gets a late look. I don't see anyone taking Justin Palazzo just on his size, but it's possible.

Regina Pats

Nick Ross - Just never saw it. I know someone is going to grab him in the second round, but he just never did anything in the games I saw. I can see there's some skill there, but I never see him do anything with it.

Linden Rowat - Tough for me to see this year, because for some reason, I ended up seeing a lot of Tommy Tartaglione's starts. Did not get a good read in the one game I saw, but my guess is he's a middle round guy.

Brett Leffler - Sometimes it's tough being a #1 overall Bantam pick - he can ask Ryan Kerr about that. Strong start to the season, but didn't do much after October. Skating is a problem. Still quite a bit of projectable skill, so he'll at least go late.

Saskatoon Blades

Colton Gillies - I can't remember a player who has generated this much argument on the Red Line staff and between other NHL scouts. I once described his attributes (size and skating) as the equivalent of crack cocaine for NHL scouts. Very addictive, but very dangerous. The problem is that he's just got no idea with the puck. Skated the puck right into the defenceman countless times this season. He's still going to be a pretty decent defensive forward, but do you want to spend a high first round pick for that? The most intriguing thing about him was the handful of games he played defence this year - that might be a good permanent move. I think he goes somewhere between 10-20 overall, but a lot of scouts are saying, "I hope he's gone by the time we pick."

Justin McCrae - Is one of those guys that I think I see something in that nobody else does. Skating is a question, but I think it's going to be good enough. Terrific defensively this year. Bad linemates hurt his totals - I don't know why they didn't have McCrae centre a line with Gillies on the wing. I think he's got a lot more offense in him than we've seen. I think he's an 80-90 point guy next year and will make whoever takes him in the late 2nd or 3rd round look smart.

Others: Despite a ton of 89s, there's not much else for NHL scouts to get excited about. Both Ryan Funk and Brett Ward are going to be a solid junior defencemen, and might be worth a last round pick. Garrett Klotz improved his skating, but it's still bad - but a guy this big who competes this well might get a look.

Swift Current Broncos

Eric Doyle - Hard to figure for me. I like his aggressive style and the way he rushes the puck. But I think there's a lack of hockey sense there that is a problem. I know some think of him as a first rounder, but I'd be surprised at that. I think he's a late 2nd round guy.

Paul Postma - Lots of puck skill and good size, but I don't like his skating. Not real good in the defensive zone and chases a lot. I'm guessing he'll go in the middle or late rounds.

Derek Claffey - Good skater and might have enough skill to draw late round interest.

Kyle Bortis - Should have been a 7th round gamble pick last year. Maybe still only worth a 7th this year. Way too much skill to not roll the dice with a late pick on a player like this.

Daniel Rakos - Yes, he's an 87. But this guy has size, quickness, and he put up a few points this year. Worth a late pick.

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